by Dewi Parry
This year, a few of us attended the Xerte Conference 2016, hosted by Nottingham University. As we’ve mentioned here on the blog, Xerte Online Toolkits is now a supported service within the University, which enables you to create accessible learning objects online for use in your teaching. We’ve also mentioned that we are now working with Ron Mitchell (Mr Xerte!), who is our consultant for Xerte, and has very much been a part of the Xerte development team from day 1.
Personally, I’ve been using Xerte since 2012/13, where I originally used v2.0 to create learning objects for a blended learning course I was working on. The bonus at the time was the ability to create learning objects quickly in HTML5 as opposed to Flash, and the fact that it was already installed on the server here at Cardiff, thanks to Simon and then Jin – so there was no need to pay a fortune for a licence! (Adobe were just bringing in their pay per month creative cloud, which had us all up in arms 🙂
We’ve written a bit about what we learned from the conference, as a series of blog posts. Take a look at the conference resources, and also a recent post by Catherine Emmett, who shares her new tutorial resource to help you get started:
- Karl’s Xerte conference blog post
- Jin’s Xerte conference blog post
- The Xerte conference workshop details and resources (main website)
- The event capture videos for all the conference presentations
- Catherine’s tutorial resources post
Themes, colours and easy customisations by Fay Cross
I attended quite a few sessions during the conference where I picked up tips around using Xerte. I think the session I gained the most from was the “Themes, colours and easy customisations” session, presented by Fay Cross. The session focused on quick and easy ways to customise the look and feel of your Xerte projects – something we are asked quite a bit during sessions, with staff wanting to brand or individualise their learning objects. Fay took us through what you can do with the new WYSIWIG editor, which for me is the greatest improvement of the recent upgrade (to version 3). Good practice tips around text and images were also helpful, as were optional properties, theme possibilities and CSS customisations. Luckily, the presentation is live, so you can understand the features too (built in Xerte obviously!)
Students as Producers of Digital History: Using Xerte at the University of Lincoln by Kerry Pinny, Diane Ranyard, Alastair Codling
I really enjoyed the session by the University of Lincoln, who were presenting about “The Making Digital History project in the School of History and Heritage”. The project involved students producing Xerte resources in order to teach others, which is something we also do here at Cardiff, with Joe Nicholls and Catherine Emmett leading the way. I was particularly interested in the student ambassador role, where a PhD student was involved in the technical training of students through workshops, providing drop in sessions and general technical support for the project. The session also touched on practical problems they encountered with the project – with the ambassador role; the problems with University IT departments and upgrading the software; the pros and cons of Xerte etc. This was informative for me as I am often asked about the problems of using technology for teaching, and it was refreshing to hear people speaking honestly about their experiences.